On September 14, 2022, several witnesses testified at a hearing held by the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, “Flatlining Care: Why Immigrants Are Crucial to Bolstering Our Health Care.” Among them were Sarah K. Peterson, Principal Attorney, SPS Immigration PLLC, who testified about “smart immigration reform” to allow International Medical Graduates (IMGs,) international nurses, and other healthcare professionals to help address the United States’ “ongoing shortage of access to medical care, ensuring that all Americans are able to access basic, primary medical care regardless of where they live in the United States.”
Among other things, Ms. Peterson urged Congress to pass two pending bills: the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act, S. 1810 (H.R. 3541), and the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, S. 1024 (H.R. 2255). She said that passage of these bills would increase access to medical care and bring relief to underserved populations, and to J-1 physicians and international nurses. She noted, for example, that the Conrad bill would provide “cap-gap” relief for J-1 trainees, similar to that provided to F-1 students working in Optional Practical Training status, whose work authorization expires before October 1 and whose employers have filed a cap-subject H-1B petition selected in the registration period. “Expanding this relief to physicians would provide employers with quicker access to necessary health care and allow these foreign national physicians to change status in the United States, without having to depart the United States, obtain a visa, and only be permitted to re-enter the U.S. months later. Cap gap work-authorization for U.S.-trained physicians would add a quarter of a year or more of badly needed physician coverage and is smart immigration reform,” she said.